Fuel for the Fire: Spaghetti Squash

My husband and I have decided to do the Dash Diet. It’s a fairly reasonable diet as far as these things go. It’s actually how I picture I should eat with lots of fresh vegetables but have never quiet made the effort to do it.

It’s a low carb diet to, and I must admit to missing sinking my teeth into a cookie or a waffle, and I cheat all the time by having cereal for breakfast. Protein breakfast just doesn’t seem to be my thing, but I try to get two or three protein breakfasts in in a week.

So we’ve been experimenting with new recipes. One of my favorites is one that David came up with based on a recipe he found in one of our books. He always eyeballs these things, so I can’t really post how he did it. When I went to make it, I realized the sauce would be super watery if I made it as written, so I incorporated some of his suggestions. Here’s what we came up with.

Large pot of boiling water
1 spaghetti squash cut into fourths
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small-medium onion diced
1 pound ground beef
salt and pepper to taste
2 cans (15 oz each) tomato sauce
1 cup water
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning

Place cut up squash into boiling water for thirty minutes. Heat olive oil in large frying pan for thirty seconds. Add onions and saute for one minute. Add ground beef, salt and pepper to taste, and cook until done, using a spatula or fork to break up the meat. Drain fat and return to heat. Add tomato sauce and water to meat and stir in Italian seasoning. Simmer ten to fifteen minutes.

When squash is done, remove to a cutting board. Take a fork and scoop out strands of squash into bowl. When plating, place squash first like spaghetti and cover with meat sauce. Enjoy! Serves 5-6.

Fuel For the Fire: Halloween Treats

Our church cook-off happened this weekend, so the whole family was in the kitchen. Since Halloween is this weekend, I thought I’d share my girls’ recipes.

Cat Brownies

1 Box Brownie mix with frosting
Bag of M&Ms
Bag of mini M&Ms
Graham Crackers

Fix brownies according to directions, but don’t frost yet. When the brownies are completely cool, use a spatula to slide the brownies out of pan and onto wax paper. Use a circle cookie cutter to cut out brownies. Because brownies are thick, we also turned the brownies on their sides and cut through the thickness to make double the circles. Frost. Use big M&Ms for eyes and mini M&Ms for noses. Cut graham crackers into triangles for the ears. Here’s a diagram my daughter drew to show how it’s done:

We drew in the whiskers with toothpicks.

Here are the finished Cat Brownies:

And my other daughter did chocolate covered marshmallows rolled in mini M&Ms.

1 cup chocolate chips
2-3 tablespoons milk
14 marshmallows
mini M&Ms

Melt one cup chocolate chips with a tablespoon of milk in small bowl in the microwave for thirty seconds. Stir and add one more tablespoon of milk. Put in microwave for thirty more seconds. Stir until smooth. If needed add one more tablespoon of milk. Dip marshmallow in melted chocolate and roll in M&Ms. Place on waxed paper and repeat.

Happy Halloween!

Retro Blog

I’m going a little crazy here again. I’ll eventually blog about what’s going on, I swear, but right now I need to stay mum and focus. I thought I’d post a recipe that I posted almost exactly two years ago today–wow I’ve been blogging for two years! This is from September 24, 2012.


A few weeks ago my husband went camping with our son’s Boy Scout troop and made a sort of treasure hunt for them. The treasure was gold bars which I volunteered to make so I could use the recipe for the blog. Before I volunteered, my husband found very different gold bar recipes on the internet than what we make them like in New Mexico.

Since my son doesn’t read my blog, I feel safe saying that they were my lunch in middle school—not my dessert, but my whole lunch. They sold them at the snack bar for less than a hot lunch, and I would use the extra money to buy books at the end of the week. I mean, they’re nutritious, right? Well, maybe you make them differently, so I’ll put the recipe below and you be the judge :)

The basic recipe came from a cookie exchange I was a part of several years back, but I felt it was plain. I made them again with my tweaks of adding salt and vanilla and putting more chocolate on top.

Gold Bars (as made in New Mexico)

1 1/2 cups peanut butter
2 tablespoons butter (softened
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 cups Rice Krispies
1 cup melted semi-sweet chocolate chips

Mix peanut butter, butter, salt and vanilla in a food processor or use a hand blender until smooth. Add powdered sugar and mix again. Stir in Rice Krispies and spread into a 9×9 pan. Spread melted chocolate on top. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour. Cut into as big or small pieces as you like—depending on if you want a lunch size portion or snack ­čśë

Fuel for the Fire: Easy Frozen Cake

It was party time at my house for one of my daughters this weekend. Being a huge fan of Frozen, I tried to make everything fit the theme, including the cake. I had enough cake batter and filling left over from the fancy cake that I made a plain frozen cake that I wanted to pass on to everyone. Here’s the fancy cake I made with the Bundt castle pan:

And here’s the simple frozen cake you can throw together in the morning and serve for an afternoon or evening party:

To make:

1 box cake mix and the ingredients to fix it
1 box pudding mix 4 oz.
2 cups milk
1 frozen whipped cream topping (thawed) 8 oz.

Make cake according to directions and pour into two 9 inch round pans. Cool completely. Fix pudding with 2 cups of milk and set in the fridge for 5 minutes. Fold whipped topping into pudding mix. Place one cake on plate and spread with half of the topping. Place second cake on top and spread with remaining topping. Cover loosely with foil and place in freezer for four hours or more. If you freeze it over night, set it out for about 15 minutes before cutting. We used vanilla for our flavors, but I imagine it would be delicious with any flavor. I’m anxious to make a chocolate one!

Fuel for the Fire: Cherry Vanilla Browned Butter Crisp

I apologize for the late post. Just a few weeks of summer left and then my writing schedule will return to normal.

A few years ago I visited Julie, and we made Browned Butter Shortbread Cookies. Do not make these if you are on a weight loss diet unless the diet is eating as much butter and flour as possible. Julie cleverly sealed them in a Tupperware container, but the Tupperware could not seal away the temptation. They were so freaking good.

Since then, I’ve been on a quest to see what recipes are turned from good to delicious by taking the time to brown the butter. Fruit Crisp was already at delicious, so browning the butter upped it to scrumptious.

If you’ve never browned butter, it’s a little tricky. Put the butter in a pot and set the burner to medium. Let it melt, stirring occasionally. Once it melts, bring it to a boil, again, only stirring occasionally. Now for the tricky part. Let the butter boil until brown flakes float up to the foam. Remove from the heat and let it set for five minutes. It’ll continue to brown. If you take it off too late, it’ll turn black. You want it to look like this:









Another step that you might not bother to do but totally brings on the flavor is toasting pecans. To toast pecans, put them on a cookie sheet in an oven preheated to 400 degrees F. Bake for three minutes, stir, then back for three-four more minutes until the aroma fills the kitchen. Let them cool before chopping them.

Cherry Vanilla Browned Butter Crisp

2 pounds cherries stemmed and pitted
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup flour
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup toasted and chopped pecans
1/2 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup browned butter

In a 9×9 baking pan, stir together cherries, sugar and vanilla.









In a mixing bowl, stir together flour, rolled oats, pecans, brown sugar and browned butter until well mixed. Spread evenly over cherries and bake at 375 degrees F for thirty minutes or until crips is brown and fruit is bubbling.









Serve with whipped cream or ice cream. Enjoy!


Monday Blah

So I’m about as sick as I was the last time I attended Bubonicon, which I think was four years ago. I didn’t get sick until after, but it was awful, and I of course blamed the name. If you don’t know, New Mexico is one of the few places you can still catch the bubonic plague, so of course we must name our sci-fi and fantasy convention after it and make the mascot a rat.

Anyway, my kids have been doing some cooking and when we ran out of food, it’s been take-out. My husband has had it for longer which doesn’t thrill me since I’d like to get rid of this crap as soon as possible. I’m certainly glad this isn’t a virus I can pass over the internet. You do not want it.

Since this is recipe day, I will post my daughter’s grilled cheese that she made for us. She got the idea for it from Pillsbury’s Kids Cookbook.┬áI will put my own twist in.

1. Count out the bread for the amount of sandwiches you want to make.

2. Count out a slice of American cheese for each sandwich.

3. Count out a slice of Muenster cheese for each sandwich.

4. Melt two teaspoons of butter per sandwich.

Brush melted butter on one side of each slice of bread. (My twist is to sprinkle with garlic salt. I think garlic salt adds a good taste to any grilled sandwich.) Place bread buttered side down in frying pan. Place a slice of each cheese on the bread. Top with another slice of bread butter side up. Fry in pan with burner on medium for about 4 minutes. Flip and finish cooking for 2-3 minutes until bread is nice and toasted. Enjoy with potato chips and tomato soup.

Remember, today is the last day for stories!!!


Crinkle Red Velvet

No, this is nothing kinky :) It’s a recipe!

But before I get to that, my story Menagerie of Tarot is out in Tales of a Talisman!┬áI realize I’ve let some stories slip by without writing their inspiration, but I will do this on in a couple of weeks.

My middle child needed cookies for her last day of school party last week. I meant to take a picture of them, and indeed thought I had, but I didn’t, apparently. So this is not my recipe, but from Duncan Hines. They are delicious! Definitely a keeper.

Red Velvet Crinkle Cookies Recipe

  • Preheat oven to 375┬░F. Melt butter; set aside to cool. Place powdered sugar and cornstarch in shallow dish. Mix with a fork to blend.
  • Place cake mix, cooled butter, eggs and lemon zest in large mixing bowl. Mix by hand until well blended and a dough forms.
  • Form dough into 1″ balls and roll in powdered sugar. Place on cool, ungreased baking sheets about 2″ apart.
  • Bake, 1 sheet at a time, in center of oven for 9 to 11 minutes or until set. Cool 1 minute. Transfer to wire rack to cool completely.
  • Store in airtight container with wax paper or parchment separating layers.
  • Tips:
  • For consistency, use a small scoop (1″ to 1┬╝” inches in diameter) to form dough into balls.
  • For best results, bake only one sheet of cookies at a time. If two are baked at once, rotate sheets midway through baking.


Boston Cream Cupcakes

Happy Monday!

Today’s recipe is easy and oh so delicious. I made these for my son’s birthday and he asked for a fourth one that night.

You will need:

One box yellow or white cake mix and the ingredients on the box to make the ckae.
One 7oz. box vanilla Jello Pudding and the milk to make it.

Chocolate Glaze:
2 tablespoons butter
2 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
1 cup confectioners sugar
2 tablespoons water

Fix 24 cupcakes according to box directions. While cupcakes are baking, make vanilla pudding according to directions and refrigerate. Cool cup cakes completely. Remove cupcake wrappers and cut cupcakes in half horizontally. Place two tablespoons of pudding on the bottom of each cupcake. Replace top half of cupcake. Melt butter and chocolate in a small pot over medium heat, stirring constantly. When melted, add confectioners sugar and water. Stir until smooth. Pour over cupcakes and let set for 5 minutes. Refrigerate if not serving immediately. Enjoy!


Fuel for the Fire

Happy Monday!

A bit of business before I post the recipe. I forgot to mention on Friday that Alex Shvartsman who is the creator of the anthology Unidentified Funny Objects will be guest blogging here on Wednesday. Please join him as he talks about his inspiration for UFO and how he made it a reality.

Also, please get your stories in for Photo Flare!

My creativity in the kitchen was a fizzle this month. Perhaps all those words I’ve been writing have cut off any culinary inspiration. So I’m turning to one of my favorite cook books ever to share a recipe with you: In the Kitchen with Miss Piggy.

She was one of my favorite characters growing up. When I moved out, my mom gave me this recipe book to get me started. It’s both hilarious and filled with yummy recipes.

One of my family’s favorite recipe from it is: Betty Buckley’s Parmesan Potatoes.

12 small red potatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds) unpeeled, sliced
4 garlic cloves, unpeeled
1/2 cup plus two tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons chopped parsley (optional)

1. Bring water to boil in a 3 quart saucepan. Put in the potatoes and garlic and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.

2. Preheat the broiler. Butter a shallow 1 quart baking dish.

3. Drain the potatoes and garlic. When they’re cool enough to handle, slip the garlic cloves out of their skins. In a shallow bowl, coarsely mash the potatoes and garlic. Add 1/2 cup Parmesan, butter, milk, salt and pepper. Spread the potatoes in prepared dish and sprinkle with remaining Parmesan.

4. Broil 4 inches from heat until the top is lightly browned, about 6 minutes. Garnish with parsley and serve.

Have a great week and remember to come back Wednesday for Alex Shvartsman’s blog!

Caramelized Onion Quiche

Happy Monday!

I know some people are getting ready for the yearly feast of all feasts, and my recipe has nothing to do with that :) I’ve been working on a quiche this month, and I wanted to share it with you. It’s not an easy recipe, but I thought it came together well.

Before I post the recipe, I’d like to direct you to Shari’s new blog. She has redesigned it, and it looks lovely. She’s also thinking of doing a writing contest!

I’d also like to thank┬áRuth Hull Chatlien for reading and posting a review about A Sunset Finish. I really appreciate it!

On with the recipe:

Caramelized Onion Quiche

1 nine inch pie crust unbaked in pie pan
1 medium sweet onion caramelized (I use the recipe at Simply Recipes for caramelizing onions)
6 strips of bacon
1 package fresh spinach (6 oz.)
2 oz. Swiss cheese shredded or thinly sliced
6 eggs
1 cup whipping cream

Place onions over pie crust. Cook bacon in large frying pan. When bacon is done, remove and add spinach to grease. Cook spinach for a minute or two over medium heat until wilted. Drain grease. Place spinach over onions. Crumble bacon over spinach. Place cheese over bacon. In medium bowl whisk together eggs and whipping cream. Pour over onion filling. Bake in 350 degree F oven for one hour or until toothpick pushed in comes out clean. Serves 8.